When I was about 16 or 17, someone at church told my parents that their neighbours were giving away their dog (for free), because he was being too loud. My mom and dad aren’t big fans of pets or animals, so it was only after my brother and I begged and pleaded that we went to see the dog after church.
I still remember that he was tied outside their house and that he jumped on me, almost tearing my sweater. For some strange reason, we fell in love with this brat. My brother and I insisted we take him home. So, we took him home, and my mom and dad would cautiously walk around him, trying to avoid him as much as possible lest he jumped on them. He was a very jumpy and hyper dog. We decided to name him Jazz, because we wanted to have his name be associated with some sort of music.
While my mom and dad took some time to understand and love Jazz, once they did, there was no turning back. Till this day, my dad day calls him his third child. In fact, he loves him so much that on Easter Sunday, Jazz got a fancy lamb shank after my dad asked if we could take the leftovers from our Sunday lunch for his son!
From the beginning, one thing was apparent about Jazz: he loved food. He would bark when we would eat, and he had an insatiable appetite. Even now, 11 years after we got him, he likes to sit by our side when are at the dining table.
I remember that in the early years, Jazz would do some strange things. For some reason, he loved my dad a lot; I think he knew who the master of the house was! So he would pick on things my dad used – his Bible, his glasses, his socks — and he would destroy them by eating them or tearing them apart. (He actually ate my dad’s socks, and my mom’s cell phone, which thankfully came out later, thanks to bowel movement.) The day that Jazz tore my dad’s Bible, my father got so angry he whacked him and kicked him out of the house. My brother and I ran after Jazz and brought him back home and let him sleep in our room, consoling the poor chap as he was visibly shaken. That was one of the last times he destroyed something belonging to my dad. But that doesn’t mean he stopped his mischief.
My mom had cooked about a kilogram of lamb chops, and kept it on the stove to cool. About half an hour later, we realized Jazz had jumped and managed to pull the frying pan down, and had eaten up all the meat! Once, he even ate an entire packet of oil. He would do these naughty things and then go and hide under the bed.
Stories like this are common in our house. Jazz loves eating bread and if he hears the sound of the plastic wrapper open, he will come near you and make sure you feed him.
A photo of Jazz at the beach with my dad (taken in 2010)
Jazz was also a hyperactive dog who loved running around. When we got him, we lived in a house with a garden next to it and he loved running around there. Once, when my dad took him out for a drive, he jumped out of the car without my dad’s knowledge. Thankfully, he had a leash, so my dad realised he’d jumped out and slowed down to let him back in.
We’ve taken him on our road trips from Bangalore to Nagercoil and back and from Bangalore to Kochi and back. I remember the first time we took him, we created space for him at the back with a mattress, but instead, he decided to rest on me when I fell asleep!
I moved out of my parents’ house in 2009, so now I’ve become a visitor at home. But every time I do come home, Jazz comes to me, to have me pet him, and rub his chin. He loves this and barks till I give him attention.
Something I noticed about Jazz this time when I visited home was that he’s grown very old. This hyper dog who once jumped over the wall to chase after some dogs now struggles to go for a walk or climb stairs. But one thing about him hasn’t changed – what he may lack in hyper activity he makes up for when he barks. He barks a lot when my dad is at home and isn’t giving him attention. I notice he sits at the bottom of the stairs and barks at my dad when he’s in the first floor. When my dad sits to eat, Jazz sits faithfully by him hoping that my dad would give him some dosa, or idli, or some lamb bones. When my dad is out of town, that’s the quietest you’ll see Jazz.
When Jazz first came home, my dad used to keep saying that he’s a lot like me. While I was initially amused that he would think about me this way, I began to see why.
Like Jazz, I am hyper and I love food. While I haven’t eaten 1 kg of lamb chops, I did one day finish all the crab that was made for some guests visiting home. I have jumped gates and walls to be with my friends, and I have destroyed 9 pairs of my mother’s glasses as a child. But here’s what I feel is the most important similarity – like Jazz I am a huge attention monger. When the person I consider my master isn’t giving me attention I go berserk. Last week my uncle and his family came home and Jazz insisted being seated with us. I tend to be like this – wanting to be a part of the crowd.
Jazz was adopted by us, with all his quirks and eccentricities. I’m not sure why my brother and I wanted to have him as family when he was so naughty! I too was adopted, by a heavenly father who knew before He adopted me all the mischief I would do. Instead of throwing me out of his house (like my dad tried), God would throw His son out, so I could be accepted in his place. Sometimes the silly things Jazz does remind me of my own silliness in the presence of God.
When he rolls around in the grass happy and care free I remember Psalm 23, and how our own heavenly father is leading us to relax in green pastures so I can be care free! Sometimes we can’t understand why Jazz is barking, but my heavenly master understands me perfectly well, even the times when I’m not begging for His attention. All of Jazz’s hyper activeness only reminds me of how much energy I too have to go to God, my Master, but instead tend to make masters of men and objects.
He’s much older and less hyper today, but I am grateful for Jazz. His behaviour has helped me see my own inadequacies. Despite all his mischief, we love him, and he is family.